Name change proposed for AZSBC

Oct 21, 2020

By Elizabeth Young

The Convention Council of the Arizona Southern Baptist Convention took the first step toward changing the name of the AZSBC and heard about changes coming in how the convention works with churches at its meeting Sept. 15.

The hybrid meeting was held in person at CalvaryPHX, Phoenix, with some council members participating through Zoom.

The council also adopted a $4.3 million budget to be presented to messengers at the annual meeting and voted to receive the 2019 audit.

Name change

The proposed name change — to Arizona Mission Network of Southern Baptists — was recommended by the Executive Committee and the Denominee Team. For the past year, a 12-member group of AZSBC staff members, pastors, associational leaders and the Send Network Arizona director has been going through the Denominee process with Will Mancini, a church consultant/coach, author and founder of The Future Church Co.

“Denominee is a process … to talk about how conventions relate to their churches, how they connect, how they do their work,” said AZSBC Executive Director David Johnson. The North American Mission Board provided partial funding for the AZSBC to participate.

“We’re much more a ‘network’ than we are a ‘convention,’” which people think of as something they attend once a year, Johnson said in explaining the proposed name change.

“We want to function as a network of churches that are joined together by mission — a mission network,” he said. “What calls us together is the Great Commission — being able to make disciples of all nations and all peoples, beginning here in Arizona and moving around the world, sharing resources together so that we can plant churches and send missionaries and all those other things.”

The plan adopted by the Convention Council calls for the name change to be presented at this year’s annual meeting on Nov. 13 and voted on in the 2021 session, providing “time for prayer, fasting and discussion” in the meantime. It would change the DBA  — doing business as — name of the convention and would not require changes to the constitution or corporate documents.

Denominee

Explaining the impetus for the AZSBC to join the Denominee process, Johnson said the sense of connectedness and brand loyalty from churches has waned in the last 25 years, as culture has changed and churches have become more diverse.

“The convention is no longer the one that delivers and trains in all of the denominationally related programs, because choices are vast now,” he said. “We’re not the experts that come in and try to tell churches what to do. … Now it has to be much less program-related and much more process-related.”

The best role for the convention is to connect directly with churches and help them take their “next step,” Johnson said. He listed examples of next steps, such as starting a new worship service, finding a leader for a particular area of ministry, planting a church, and finding ways to connect with the community and reach the lost.

“We want to catalyze,” Johnson said. “We want to bring a process that will actually help synergy to be created, so that our working together is enhanced, and it’s far [more] than it ever would be by our churches trying to work by themselves.”

This will be accomplished through cultivating relationships between the convention and people, pastors and churches and also between churches themselves, convening leaders, curating the strengths of churches and expanding vision, he said.

“We believe the outcomes of this will be developing disciple makers, strengthening leaders, multiplying churches and transforming communities,” he said.

The work with the Denominee organization will continue for two more years, Johnson said.

“I look forward to rolling more of this out,” he said. “We want to gather key leaders around our state [and] be able to talk with you about what this looks like moving forward.”

2021 budget

The Convention Council adopted a $4,336,337.04 operating budget for 2021 to be presented to messengers for consideration at the annual meeting in November. The operating budget includes $3,461,200 in anticipated Cooperative Program giving from churches, the same as the 2020 budget.

The Cooperative Program budget allocates $1,263,338 or 36.5% — an increase of a .5 percentage point — to the Southern Baptist Convention for national and international missions and ministries. The percentage increase represents another step in reaching Arizona Southern Baptists’ Centennial Vision goal of giving 50% of Cooperative Program receipts to missions outside the state through the SBC by 2028.

The operating budget is a $615,660.04, or 12.4%, decrease from the 2020 budget.

The AZSBC has not been spending all of the church planting money available from the North American Mission Board, so this was reduced by about $500,000 to a “more realistic” level, Johnson said. In addition, some NAMB church planter development funds were not available for 2021. However, the budget includes no reduction in NAMB evangelism funds, he said.

Another reduction came from LifeWay Christian Resources, which discontinued their ministry partnership funds to state conventions, resulting in a loss of about $55,000 that had been going into the AZSBC personnel budget.

Savings were also realized in reducing Portraits from six to four issues per year.

“This budget takes a cautious but optimistic approach to the year ahead and compensates and makes allowance for some of these changes in income,” Johnson said.

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